The Charles Briggs Cole family was especially influential in the cultural development of the Chester community, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Tecumseh Public Library. As the library grew in service to the community and expanded it's collection of volumes, the need for a library building became increasingly apparent. In January 1927, at the urging of his daughter, Alice, Mr. C. B. Cole offered to build a permanent library building for the community of Chester, making it a gift to the city and it's citizens. Mayor Sigmund Aszman accepted the generous offer on behalf of the community.
The library building was constructed on the site of the Jim Morrison home on Sparta Street. The city of Chester provided the ground. Mr. A. E. Crippen was the contractor for the construction.
The construction of the building took less than one year. By January 31, 1928, the library building had been completed and was ready for occupancy. Unfortunately before plans for a dedication of the building could be completed, Mr. Charles Briggs Cole died. The loss of the public spirited citizen was a blow to the entire community. Appropriately the decision was made to hold the public funeral services for Mr. Cole in the library building, the very embodiment to his tremendous generosity and commitment to his dearly loved community.
The dedication of the new Chester Public Library took place on April 22, 1928. Immediately the library became the focal point of many community activities and has continued as such until the present day. Files from 1929 library records show 60 cardholders and a book collection of around 3,000 volumes. In 1997 the library served over 2,500 cardholders and housed a collection of 33,022 volumes. These numbers speak to the dramatic growth in service to the community -- and resources provided in that service -- by the Chester Public Library. This era of expansion has been under the supervision of only five Administrative Librarians: Miss Minnie Adams (1928 - 1957), Mrs. Mabel Nagel (1957 - 1971), Mrs. Frances McDonald (1971 - 1990), Mrs. Mary Frances Eggemeyer (1990 - 1996) and Mrs. Tamara J. Grah (1997 - present).
In 1965 the children's library was established, and the furnishings were
Mrs. J. Dwight Martindale and Mrs. Laura W. Pancoast, granddaughters of Mr. Charles Briggs Cole. The gift was made in memory of their mother, Mrs. Una Cole Withers. The position of Children's Librarian was created with Mrs. Frances McDonald being the first to serve in that capacity.
In 1980 a portion of the lower level of the library was remodeled to create a "First Books Room" to house a large collection of valuable books. Included in the collection is a Bible printed in 1605, an 1865 issue of the Pickett Guard, as well as many volumes rich in local history and inscribed by early residents of the Chester community.
As the community of Chester has grown and prospered, so too has the Chester Public Library grown in service to the people of the community of Chester. With its large number of volumes, as well as records, audio and video tapes, microfilms, computer software, and large print books, the library has grown to the extent that the magnificent building so generously and graciously given by Mr. C. B. Cole no longer could adequately house its resources. It was with great pride and much joy that the 60th Anniversary of the Chester Public Library was celebrated in conjunction with the groundbreaking for the library building's expansion on October 30, 1988.
The expansion plan doubled the size of the library building and maintained the architectural beauty and integrity of the existing building. The new facilities were officially dedicated on May 6, 1990. The community now enjoys the continuation of fine library services in a dignified and beautiful setting.